Hot Sheet Archives - Page 2 of 125 - Colorado Politics

Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 16, 20183min4770

The Millennial Policy Center in Denver updated its “Restoring Higher Education in America” policy paper this week after the Brookings Institution called student loan defaults a looming crisis in its report last Thursday.

The left-leaning Washington, D.C., think tank alleges that data shows “default rates depend more on student and institutional factors than on average levels of debt. For example, only 4 percent of white graduates who never attended a for-profit defaulted within 12 years of entry, compared to 67 percent of black dropouts who ever attended a for-profit. And while average debt per student has risen over time, defaults are highest among those who borrow relatively small amounts.”

The right-leaning Millennial Policy Center said in its paper last year that the cost of higher education has risen without good reasoning while tracking along with the increased availability of loans. The paper proposed reforms at the state and federal levels.

“Our research shows that the burden of student loans isn’t expanding because college is becoming more expensive,” Millennial Policy Center president and CEO Jimmy Sengenberger said in a statement. “Rather, school is too expensive because of the growth of student loans and grants.

“The fact is that ‘free college’ and student loan forgiveness would greatly exacerbate the cost crisis, not resolve it. It’s essential that any substantial higher education reform measures directly address the main drivers of this nearly $1.5 trillion college calamity by injecting real market forces – especially competition – throughout the system.”

You can read the updated Millennial Policy Center paper by clicking here.

“The Brookings report is a startling reminder that the college cost calamity and student loan bubble are indeed a catastrophe in the making,” Sengenberger said. “It is imperative for students and graduates alike that we address this crisis today, rather than kicking the can down the road.”


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 16, 20183min12510

Despite reforms, the Denver Sheriff’s Department’s management of the city jail system remains a “quagmire,” an activist group says. That’s why Denver County taxpayers should have the power to elect their sheriff.

Denver is one of only two Colorado counties that doesn’t elect its sheriff; the mayor makes the pick.

Over the weekend, the Colorado Latino Forum launched a May 2019 municipal election ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official. It says it has the support of business leaders, jail reform advocates, neighborhood organizers, faith leaders and others.

“The Denver Sheriff Department, the largest jailing system in the region, is a quagmire of rising assaults, inadequate inmate services, low staff morale and failed leadership,” campaign Co-Chair Lisa Calderon said in a statement. “Despite a three-year reform effort and tens of millions of dollars paid out for consultants, settlements, and skyrocketing overtime pay, Denver taxpayers have had enough of local politicians using the general fund as a blank check without a return on investment.”

The sheriff’s department has been dogged by controversies in recent years. In the fall of 2015, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Patrick Firman to the helm at the Denver Sheriff’s Department to reform the city’s jail. The appointment came on the heels of a consultant’s review of the department that found deep excessive force and mismanagement problems. Most recently, critics have pointed to news that overtime spending has cost the department millions, signaling continued struggles. The department has completed about 70 percent of the recommendations from the consultant review.

The Colorado Latino Forum said an elected sheriff would be more accountable, operating independently of political influence, much like the city auditor and clerk and recorder. The group argues as a political appointee, the sheriff is only accountable to the mayor, operating without transparency.

Voters “deserve real reform by electing an independent leader with the power to make sweeping changes to improve public safety, reduce costs, expand inmate services, increase staff morale and build public trust,” Calderon said.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 16, 20184min4800

…Which is of course not to say the media maven and messaging manager for Secretary of State Wayne Williams was drinking an IPA when she penned an enlightening blog post the other day about the number of beer references in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State speeches over the years. But it’s probably safe to assume the guv and the onetime, longtime political reporter share an affinity for the original carbonated beverage.

In any event, Bartels informs us the term-limited Hickenlooper, who delivered his eighth and last State of the State last week as the legislature opened has in fact “mentioned beer in at least six of his eight State of the State speeches.” Whether it’s because the petroleum geologist turned beer baron turned politician can’t resist playing pitch man, or because he simply loves a cold beer — or maybe the two considerations are one and the same? — Hick has been serving up brews in speech after speech.

This year, Bartels notes, it involved the governor extolling his fellow Coloradans’ love of their state:

‘It’s the growling of tractors in Brush’s Fourth  of July parade. It’s the smell of barbecue at the little league ball fields in Sterling on a summer night. If you’ve seen a sunrise over the plains, drank a cold beer after a day of hunting, or consider “Rocktober” a real month, you’ve experienced it.’

And later in the same speech, Bartels writes:

He also talked how in ancient Greece, discussions about hot topics took place over large dinners and lasted days.  There was no ‘cable TV debate or tweet storm,’ different viewpoints emerged and people ‘invested their time in each other, often fueled by wine.’

‘Here in Colorado, we’ll stick with beer,’ he said….

Last year, it was:

‘Lincoln once said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts”– and beer.’

Political (and beer) junkies can read Bartels’s full blog post for every meticulously catalogued beer reference throughout his years of speechifying.  Here’s the link again.

Meanwhile, permit us to fine-tune the guv’s reference to the ancient Greeks. They did by all accounts love their wine, but according to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, beer was the Greeks’ backup beverage:

From Egypt, beer traveled to Greece (as evidenced by the similarity of another of the Egyptian’s word for beer, zytum and the ancient Greek for the beverage, zythos). The Greeks, however, as the Romans after them, favored strong wine over beer and considered the grainy brew an inferior drink of barbarians.

Well, OK, but maybe today’s Colorado could have sated ancient Greek and Roman tastes with one of our marvelous merlots from the West Slope’s wine country. We’ve got it all.

No wonder everyone wants to move here.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 16, 20182min1520

Denver recently rolled out a new program to aid those facing a “housing crisis.”

Late last week, Denver City Council members took an unconventional extra step in launching an effort to provide legal aid to Denverites facing eviction. Ten council members pooled money totaling $123,600 in donations from office budgets and personal contributions to help get an eviction legal defense program off the ground.

“The Housing Crisis is affecting people lives daily,” Denver City Council President Albus Brooks said in a post of Facebook. “Denver City Council led by members Robin Kniech and Paul Kashmann (supported by 8 others) have initiated an Eviction Assistance pilot program. We have raised over $100K to help over 80 individuals. We hope to evaluate and expand the program in the future.”

Officials say the program will be coordinated by Colorado Legal Services, which has decades of experience in eviction defense and will make use of volunteer lawyers and make other referrals. The program is expected to start in March or April.

During an office budget reconciliation process — where officials decide how to allocate unspent money and plan for 2018 — the council members decided upon the innovative funding. As the council members explain in a statement, “City Council rules permit donations to non-profit organizations for public purposes — in this case preventing displacement and homelessness, which costs the city much more in public assistance than keeping a family housed.”

Underscoring the need for the defense program, the council members pointed to research by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless that found a significant gap between the level of legal representation afforded tenants and that which is available to landlords. While tenants are represented by an attorney in only 1 to 3 percent of the cases involving major landlords, landlords are represented in virtually 100 percent of those same cases.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 15, 20185min54670

… along comes 5th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn — that uber-Republican from ultra-GOP El Paso County — and he breaks ranks.

Days after other Republicans as well as Democrats in Colorado’s D.C. delegation had sounded off with varying degrees of outrage at the U.S. attorney general’s renewed offensive against legal recreational marijuana, Lamborn’s office issued a statement by the six-term congressman on Friday that read in part:

“The federal government has the right and responsibility to uphold federal laws. I am encouraged by Attorney General Sessions’ revision of the Cole Memo. The Cole Memo was an effort by the Obama Administration to create laws by executive action through the Department of Justice, as it did with immigration, rather than to enforce laws duly passed by the legislative branch. …

… If we’re honest with ourselves, legalizing marijuana has been bad for the state of Colorado. I applaud Attorney General Sessions for upholding the law and recognizing the serious and proven harms associated with marijuana.”

Sessions announced earlier this month he and the Trump administration were backing away from a federal policy developed under the Obama administration — enunciated in the Cole Memo — that in effect had let states blaze their own paths on marijuana.  As Colorado Politics’s Ernest Luning reported the other day, both of Colorado’s U.S. senators — Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner — as well as U.S. House members from conservative Republican Scott Tipton on the Western Slope to liberal Democrat Diana DeGette in Denver bristled with indignation.

For the Colorado delegation’s Democrats, as well as Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and other party luminaries, pushing back is an easy call — another drum to beat in the “resistance” against Trump by the party that long has held a more tolerant view of pot anyway.

For Republicans, though, there are tradeoffs. The GOP for generations has been the real party of resistance when it comes to federal encroachment on state powers, a core value that dovetails with continued, broad public support for legalization.

And yet, the GOP is also historically the party of law and order, especially regarding the war on drugs — and the administration currently waging that war is Republican.

Which explains how Colorado’s Republican junior U.S. senator could be on one side, defending the “will of the voters” who legalized recreational pot:

…while Lamborn could be on the other, expressing not only support for the administration but also regret over Colorado’s voter-approved 2012 ballot issue. From his statement Friday:

The social costs of legalizing marijuana in Colorado have been steep, and the negative effects on children are particularly concerning. Since legalization, the number of calls to emergency poison control for children eight years and younger has tripled, thanks to the potency, attractiveness and availability of edibles. Youth arrests, particularly among minorities, have sharply increased. Homelessness is a rapidly growing concern. Rather than lessening criminal activity associated with marijuana, cartels have rushed into Colorado, resulting in 19 cartel operation busts in the last 18 months.

Of course, Lamborn doesn’t have to answer to all Colorado voters as Gardner must; the 5th district’s lopsidedly conservative, significantly military population is Lamborn’s constituency. And Colorado Springs itself is one Colorado city that has exercised its prerogative under the state  law to prohibit local retail marijuana sales.

Lamborn may be the odd man out in the state’s congressional delegation, but he’s hardly sticking his neck out back home.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 15, 20181min3380

No, Senate President Kevin Grantham isn’t the Jackie Robinson of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus, but the photo on the front page of the latest Denver Weekly News might have made you look twice.

Grantham posed on the opening day with the Historic Eight, as they’re called, the largest number of black lawmakers ever to serve in the 100-member General Assembly at the same time.

But there he is, the Republican from Canon City, standing tallest under the superimposed headline, “Colorado’s 8 Black Legislators Ready to Work.”

The cutline, of course, makes it clear that the H8 are posing with the Senate president, but the photo is still good for a double-take a grin. If you count the faces in the photo there’s nine, making Grantham more like the fifth Beatle.

Colorado Politics’ Gabrielle Bryant also wrote about the work the black caucus has in mind this session to improve the lives of Coloradans of color.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 15, 20183min7300

The Colorado House Republicans announced its committee assignments Friday. As the minority party in the chamber, the caucus controls no committee chairmanships or majorities.

Here are the assignments:

House Agriculture, Livestock, & Natural Resources Committee

  • Jon Becker, ranking member
  • Perry Buck
  • Marc Catlin
  • Kimmi Lewis
  • Hugh McKean
  • Lori Saine

House Appropriations Committee

  • Bob Rankin, ranking member
  • Jon Becker
  • Susan Beckman
  • Justin Everett
  • Patrick Neville

House Business Affairs and Labor Committee

  • Lang Sias, ranking member
  • Larry Liston
  • Shane Sandridge
  • Dan Thurlow
  • Kevin Van Winkle
  • Dave Williams

House Education Committee

  • Jim Wilson, ranking member
  • Justin Everett
  • Tim Leonard
  • Paul Lundeen
  • Judy Reyher
  • Lang Sias

House Finance Committee

  • Kevin Van Winkle, ranking member
  • Susan Beckman
  • Phil Covarrubias
  • Polly Lawrence
  • Shane Sandridge
  • Dan Thurlow

House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee

  • Susan Beckman, ranking member
  • Phil Covarrubias
  • Stephen Humphrey
  • Lois Landgraf
  • Kim Ransom
  • Jim Wilson

House Judiciary Committee

  • Yeulin Willett, ranking member
  • Terri Carver
  • Paul Lundeen
  • Cole Wist

House Local Government Committee

  • Kim Ransom, ranking member
  • Larry Liston
  • Hugh McKean
  • Judy Reyher
  • Dan Thurlow
  • Jim Wilson

House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee

  • Lois Landgraf, ranking member
  • Susan Beckman
  • Marc Catlin
  • Justin Everett
  • Hugh McKean
  • Kim Ransom

House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee

  • Stephen Humphrey, ranking member
  • Tim Leonard
  • Dave Williams

House Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Polly Lawrence, ranking member
  • Jon Becker
  • Perry Buck
  • Terri Carver
  • Kimmi Lewis

Legislative Audit Committee

  • Lori Saine
  • Tim Leonard


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 14, 20183min4300

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a fighter for immigration reform, holds out hope for Donald Trump. Maybe.

“I was raised not to call people a racist on the theory it’s hard for them to be rehabilitated once you’ve said that,” Bennet said on “Meet the Press” Sunday, when he was asked by host Chuck Todd if the president is a racist.

“But there is no question what he said was racist. There’s no question what he said is unAmerican and completely unmoored from the facts.”

Bennet cited his family’s immigration to the U.S. as Polish Jews and the hardworking immigrants in Colorado.

“I think he has no idea what he’s talking about,” Bennet said.

Bennet was on the NBC news show  to discuss the pending but dimming prospects for Dreamers who could face deportation because of Washington politics.

The Democrat from Denver told Todd that the compromise provides President Trump with some money for a border wall and border security — $1.6 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively — in exchange for offering good people brought to the U.S. as children a pathway to citizenship.

Trump is asking for $18 billion over the next decade to pay for 316 miles of wall along the 2,000 border with Mexico.

Sunday morning Bennet waged a finger at intransigent Republicans who five years ago bottled up a comprehensive immigration reform package that Bennet and seven other Democrats and Republicans, called the Gang of Eight, passed out of the Senate.

“If the House had ever put it on the floor (it) would have  passed, and I think we wouldn’t be in all the nonsense we’re in now,” Bennet said.

That bipartisan bill included $40 billion for border security, Bennet said.

“This idea that Democrats somehow aren’t interested in border security is demonstrably false,” he said. “We should just stop talking about it and get on with it.”

Todd pointed out that leading Democrats want a renewed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals bill debated separately from border security, but Bennet suggested they aren’t being realistic.

He called the bipartisan solution on the table a “principled compromise.”

“I think it’s a recognition that unfortunately the Republicans have a majority in the House, the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, and we have a Republican president who doesn’t seem to appreciate the contributions immigrants make to this country,” he said.